Amidst the moans and groans of retailers in the current retail slowdown, there is much to be done to pave the road for a brighter future. It is precisely because of the slower pace of business, we now have time and space to rethink strategies to innovate businesses onto the next league.

Going digital is not the answer to all problems; nor is it the one sure win formula to turn every business around. More importantly is to self-check our business: What is our competitive edge?

Consumers are evolving and lifestyles have changed. Businesses that keep pace with their customers’ changes and are involved in their daily lives will stay connected and relevant. Here’s sharing 5 ways to create a competitive edge:


  1. Give customers a great shopping experience.

Be it online or offline, happy customers are going to come back to shop again and again.

If it is your customers’ desire to have the convenience of a seamless online-offline shopping experience, then creating an omni-channel model will be an important investment to make.

For the brick-and-mortar stores, having great customer service is now of paramount importance. Attentive store staff who can provide knowledge and advice to customers create a personalised shopping experience that cannot be replicated online. Their engagements make customers feel pampered. Once they build relationships with customers, customers will want to come back to enjoy this special experience again and again.


  1. Value-add to your offering.

With value-for-money cheaper online options aplenty, consumers regardless of their wealth status are always going to look for value. Getting the same product at lower price give everyone the feel-so-good happiness.

Customers are always delighted to receive more than what they pay for. Give something that value-adds to your offering will set you apart from your competitors. The value of what you sell must exceed their expectations.

Value-adding can be in the form of product or service. A wine-glass merchant can give a free brush when customers purchase wine-glasses. A fashion retailer can provide free alteration services or wardrobe consultation to customers. A grocery retailer can offer free frying services when customers purchase frozen food. Many ways to delight your customers!


  1. Create exclusivity

Customers will be willing to go the extra mile to a store or stay loyal to a retailer if they cannot get their favourite items from elsewhere. Having unique products or services that customers love is an unbeatable formula. If you have both online and offline platforms, have some unique products on each side to generate both excitement and traffic.


  1. Make your customers feel special

If possible, personalise your offering. Tailor your products and services to each customer’s needs. For example, provide free engraving services for a pen purchase. If customers are buying a gift, provide free wrapping services and a gift card. Take the extra efforts to understand the intent behind the purchase, then craft your offering accordingly. Your customers are going to love your special touch!


  1. Winning marketing programs

No two customers are the same. Everyone has different needs and favourites. Good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) programs target to treat every customer uniquely, in accordance to their purchasing preferences. If you run a coupon-cutting promotion, send only relevant coupons to the right targeted customers. The resultant sales uplift can be phenomenon.

Loyalty programs are now becoming a must-have. Rewards should be attractive and easy to redeem. Customers get put off by loyalty programs with onerous terms and conditions. They view such retailers as being insincere towards their customers.


At the end of the day, all these boils down to how well you know your customers. Good customer insights enable you to identify their current and future needs. This powerful knowledge will drive your business to create innovative solutions for them.

Understanding your customers is therefore the first crucial step to innovate and be successful. Start working on your innovations today!